We are indebted to David for the suggestion of the greatest, the only real preservative from fear—the realisation of a Presence. ‘I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.’ But what is ‘Presence’? In the Old Testament it was ‘God for us.’ In the Gospels it is ‘God with us.’ In the Acts of the Apostles, and in the Epistles, it is ‘God in us.’ We have all three. The Fatherhood of ‘God for us’; the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, ‘God with us’; the Holy Ghost, working in the heart, ‘God in us.’ And the three make ‘Presence.’ Let us look at the three.
I. God is for me.—‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ ‘The Lord is on my side; I will not fear what man can do unto me.’ No shaft can reach me till it has passed through Him! And if it has passed through Christ, that can turn the poisoned arrow into a life-giving and healing sweetness! Our cause is the same, for my safety and my happiness are God’s glory. And He has undertaken for me in everything. Whatever happens to me, it will come covenanted. The year will only be a copy of a chart which is drawn within the veil; and, as Moses made everything ‘according to the pattern shown him in the mount,’ so all events that happen in this world are only a copy of that great original which lies, from all eternity, in the mind of God. No temptation, no sorrow can visit me, but it has been in the prayers of Jesus first. ‘I have prayed for thee.’
II. God is with me, more real, more near than a brother at my side. I can tell Him everything. I can hear His ‘still small voice.’ I can hold communion with Him all the way. I can lean on Him for strength. I go to sleep, and still He is at my side! I wake, and lo, He is there! When I go up in the high places of my joy I meet Him on the mount; when I go through the deep waters He sustains me. In the valley, His ‘rod and His staff they comfort me.’ Others come and go; but He goes never! Alone of all I love, alone of all who love me, He says, ‘Lo, I am with you always.’ I shall find Him in every position. Where no human hand can help me, and when no human voice can cheer me—when the dearest cannot go another step with me—I shall have Him, nearer and dearer than ever: for ‘this God is our God for ever and ever; and He will be our Guide unto death.’
III. God is in me.—Oh, the thought is wonderful! ‘God in me!’ It is a fact!—no language can exaggerate it! Words cannot exceed what Christ Himself said and prayed. And what He said and prayed must be, ‘I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one.’ ‘As Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us.’ Then my whole life is ‘hid with Christ in God.’ And where He is I must be. How safe! ‘Bound in the bundle of life!’ And what can ever divide us? Some things will fade, and some will go; but this is for ever and ever.
The Rev. Jas. Vaughan.
(1) ‘A counterpart to Psalms 6, as the waters of Siloah that go softly to the well of Marah. It has a long history where it sparkles to the open daylight, and it would have a longer still if we could follow it into all its quiet resting-places in hidden hearts, which only the day of God will declare.’
(2) ‘As a brook among the hills, making music through the year, and refreshing weary and thirsty wayfarers, so these words have spoken to the heart of many: of the peace of the fold, of the limpid lake, of the green glen, of the cool of overhanging rocks, of the comfort of protectorship, of the home, where the spread table and the anointed head bespeak the day’s work done and mirror the complete rest and satisfaction of the soul. Then, taking every similitude, the Psalmist flings the necklace of pearls at the feet of Christ, declaring that this would be the condition of soul for all who knew His voice and followed Him as their Shepherd. Every tense may be rendered by the present. “I do not want; He leads me; He makes me lie; He refreshes; He guides; I fear no evil; they follow Me.” Not in the days that are to be, but to-day. Not in some scene which is yet to unfold or in some distant future, but here and now, if only thou wilt take Him from this moment to be thy Shepherd, and wilt commence to obey His lead and trust His watchful care.’
(3) ‘Shepherd in the morning hours, leading me forth to the duties and temptations and difficulties of the day, and Himself going before me. As I gird myself for the activities and perils of my life, I would be sure that He is with me. For apart from Him I can do nothing. Shepherd in the hot noontide too, when the sun beats fiercely down, conducting me to green pastures and along the banks of the waters of quietness. As I ply my daily task with busy feet, I would often come apart to be alone with Him, to ponder His Word, to listen to the whisper of His Spirit. And Shepherd when the night falls, and it is growing dark. You know—do you not?—Sir Noel Paton’s picture of “Lux in Tenebris,” the girl who walks through the Valley of the Shadow with her hand clasped in Christ’s hand. Trust is conquering terror on her face, and she grows confident that no enemy will vanquish her. So may it be with me. The King of Love my Shepherd is. Can I say it—that “my,” that pronoun of possession? If I can humbly and heartily, then assuredly in life and death and eternity I shall not want.’